Subscribe to our Mailing List

Get the news right in your inbox!

How to Make an Aromatic Hydrosol at Home Without a Still

devon 4 Comments

This post contains affiliate links meaning that I may make a small commission based off of your purchase at no additional cost to you.

How to Make an Aromatic Hydrosol

How to Make an Aromatic Hydrosol at Home Without a Still

Devon 4 Comments

Condense your favorite aromas in a bottle! Make your own aromatic hydrosol at home with this super easy DIY process using equipment from your kitchen.

Summer is finally upon us and the growing season has officially kicked off in my rather cool, often rainy, almost always mild part of the world.  In addition to the bounty of fruits and veggies soon to roll in, there are the flowers.  Glorious, glorious flowers.  My lavender and roses (both cultivated and wild varieties) are bursting into bloom, the elderflowers dripping from the boughs, the ceanothus is perfuming the front entry, and the helichrysum is thiiiiiis close to scenting the air with her curry-scented aroma.  The rosemary, thyme, lemon balm and all the mints are in magnificent shape, long before the dog days leave the garden looking a bit tired and bedraggled.  It is olfactory heaven, this early summer garden business.


One of my favorite ways to capture the essence of the season is by creating hydrosols.  Hydrosols are the aqueous by-product of the essential oil distillation process, also called distillate or floral waters.  I lack a proper still (I do have my eye on this lovely specimen), but that doesn’t hold me back from condensing the aromatic delights of the season into some dreamy hydrosols.  A simple, still-free, hydrosols can be created using relatively common kitchen equipment.

What you will need:

  • One large stockpot (sometimes I like to using my water bath canning pot for this job) with a lid
  • A brick or flat stone
  • A heat proof container (like these Pyrex measuring cups)
  • Water
  • Fresh or dried plant material (I use Mountain Rose Herbs for all the dried herbs that I don’t grow or gather myself)
  • Ice


My rule of thumb is that you can create a hydrosol out of virtually anything that there is an essential oil for. Hydrosols are simply the by-product of essential oil distillation.  Some aromatic plant material, such as lilac,  is not a good candidate for hydrosols as their aromatic compounds are far too volatile and destroyed by the heat. These botanicals leave you with a vegetative, often unpleasant end result.   That said, there are some surprising candidates for hydrosols, namely cucumber which produces such a lovely refreshing mist for hot summer days (I use fresh cucumber peels or over overgrown specimens for this purpose). I encourage you to experiment with different botanicals to see what works well for you! In true distillation, the resulting essential oil would be separated from the hydrosol. Our home version produced such an infinitesimally small amount of essential oil that it is not worth the trouble of separating.


Hydrosols are like the gentler, more ethereal sister of pungent, robust essential oils.  They are often considered far safer for use with sensitive individuals, while still retaining the some of the therapeutic action of the botanical (for more on essential oil safety see this post).  A hydrosol can be used as the water phase in lotion making, as a toner for the skin, a facial mist, a room freshener, a linen mist — the possibilities are limited by your imagination.


Experiment with different botanicals, I would love to hear about the hydrosols that you create in the comments!

Not interested in making your own hydrosol?  Check out the amazing selection at Mountain Rose Herbs.

How to Make an Aromatic Hydrosol

DIY Hydrosol

  1. Gather the above-listed materials, making sure that all equipment is impeccably clean
  2. Place a brick in the center of a large stockpot and fill with water to the height of the brick.
  3. Add your chosen plant matter to the water.  There should be a generous amount of plant material in the water, but not so much as not move about freely as the water simmers.  Note: Dried herbs take up less space in the vessel and may result in a more aromatic hydrosol.
  4. Set your stockpot on the stove over medium heat, adding your heat proof bowl or Pyrex measuring cup on the brick.  Place the lid on the stockpot upside down, then place a bit of ice in the lid “bowl”.
  5. Simmer the pot, allowing the aromatic steam to rise, condense on the lid, and drip back into the collection vessel on the brick.  I like to use a pot with a glass lid so that I can observe the process.  DO NOT over-simmer the pot or you risk scorching your pot and materials.
  6. Once you have collected enough distillate, your hydrosol is complete.  Turn off heat and allow the pot and its contents to cool until safe to handle.
  7. When cool, carefully lift collection vessel from the pot. Pour resulting hydrosol into preferred containers (like these misting bottles), label and enjoy.  Store unused hydrosol in a refrigerator for best results or preserve with a small amount of alcohol.  If your hydrosol becomes cloudy, or smells, “off” please discard.

How to Make a Hydrosol


Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, was published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of can be seen at,,, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, The Herbalist's Healing Kitchen, will be published Fall 2019.

All posts


  • leatrice June 22, 2017 at 12:42 am

    What a fun process ! Can’t wait to try it. One question, when you say, “when you’ve collected enough distillate”. How can you tell when it’s all it will give you ? Thanks ~~~

    • Devon June 22, 2017 at 12:56 am

      Hi Leatrice! The quality and quantity will depend on the amount and type of plant matter you use at the beginning. A small pot might yield a few tablespoons, while a bigger pot might give you a cup or more. I generally let a batch cool, then check to see if the remaining material in the bottom of the pot seems to have some aromatic “life” left. If it does I add more water and then repeat the process.
      It is all very subjective. There really isn’t a wrong way to do it unless you boil out all your water. Experiment a little with something aromatic and abundant and you’ll get the feel for the process. Looking forward to hearing about your results!

  • […] is aligned with the crown chakra, I especially love wearing these earrings.  Rose can be worn as a hydrosol or essential oil based perfume, consumed in teas, tinctures, or delicious foods, or taken as a […]

  • […] it has quickly become one of my favorite pieces. The benefits of lavender can be experienced as a hydrosol, essential oil, or as an infused balm or massage […]

  • Leave a Reply

    About Me

    About Me

    Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

    I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More



    Subscribe to our Mailing List

    Get the news right in your inbox!

    Popular Links


    • Pears and apples are the fruits of fall. 
One of my favorite flavors from my youth was my grandmother's spiced apple butter.  I've replicated that flavor and punched up the acidity with a recipe that calls for apple cider vinegar (as opposed to lemon juice) -- giving this fruit butter an amazing depth of flavor.
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#apples #pears #applebutter #pearbutter #canning #canningseason #homestead #homesteading #homesteader #homesteadlife #homesteadlifestyle
    • Absolutely amazing weekend with some even more amazing women that I am positively HONORED to call colleagues - and even more importantly friends.
A weekend spent about Salt Lake City, speaking at #gardencomm2019, touring @melonmonologues gardens and being led on a tour of her favorite mountain places, a walking tour of some gorgeous botanical gardens, and a sight see at the temple - cuz when in SLC...
So... @attainablesustainable @melonmonologues @the_happy_herban @tenthacrefarm @homestead_honey and  @brownthumbmama  you are AMAZING LADIES!
#utah #getoutside #garden #mountains #nature
    • With the weather finally cooling, it is great time to think about planting trees and shrubs in your landscape.  The long cool months ahead are great for establishing a healthy root system!
#herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #medicinalherbs #holisticgardening #medicinegarden #herbgarden #medicinaltrees #medicinalshrubs
    • Sweet pickled figs are an amazingly delicious treat.  Believe me whenI tell you this. 
I crafted this recipe around my father's nostalgic recollections of his Scottish grandmother making the most of the bountiful fruits at her Southern Californian home.  While I never tasted Nana's pickled figs, my father thought this recipe did them great justice!
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#figs #pickledfigs #foodpreservation #preservation #canning #canningseason #homestead #homesteader #homesteading
    • My Labor Day weekend was filled with food preservation and work around the homestead...
This amazing peach salsa just got put up for the season!  I couldn't be happier!  Fruity, a little bit sweet, with a kick of heat (totally adjustable to your preference), this peach salsa is great for snacking or topping grilled chicken or fish!
Tap link in bio for link to recipe.
#canning #salsa #peachsalsa #canningseason #foodpreservation #homestead #homesteader #homesteading
    • If the success of a garden could be measured in tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants (not pictured) alone, I would be sitting pretty high on the proverbial horse.  This lovely harvest will join some other lovely produce for a recipe soon to arrive on my website.
But alas, you do not see the many other garden failures that resulted from a year of weird weather, free ranging birds, irrigation issues, and total work overload.
Seems a fitting summary of this Instagram life, ya know?  Presenting our best self like a perpetual first date or job interview.  Well, I am here to remind you that life is more than pretty pictures and that sometimes there are 10x the failures for every success that you see.
#garden #harvest #homestead #homesteading #homesteader #homesteading #homesteadinglife #homesteadreality #homesteadingreality
    • There is probably something profound and witty to be said about being between a rock and a hard place... but sometimes it’s just oxalis and rocks and a PNW ravine.
I have been a bit quiet on IG lately.  My planned summer of rest and creativity has instead turned into unexpected work, unexpected expenses, unexpected life events, and all the unexpected. 
I am finding myself carving out moments to write, to garden, to bake, to preserve, and, perhaps most importantly for my soul, to wander.  Maybe it’s just a few hours, here and there, to detach from home and work, and head for the hills and the quiet of a sounds of a forest or rushing waters - but it recenters me and my purpose when the rest of life seems like a bustling city intersection...
#wander #oregon #pnw #pacificnorthwest #oxalis #forage #foraging #forager #getoutside
    • Pearly everlasting is one of my favorite medicinal wildflowers to forage for during summer.  It ticks so many therapeutic actions boxes and is just an all around useful botanical.
It grows abundantly in the coastal mountain range a few miles from my home so it gives me great excuse to abandon my home and work responsibilities and get outside, far away from modern distractions.
All new post on the blog extolling the many virtues of this wonderful plant!
Tap link in bio for link to post.
#pearlyeverlasting #anaphalis #anaphalismargaritacea #herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #herbalism #medicinalherbs #wildflower
    • This summer has been an absolute flurry of activity.  A veritable whirlwind.  A non stop GO. 
My intended lazy, restful summer has been anything but. 
I’ve been so busy that I kinda forgot about my second book.  After the final edits were made, the photos taken - I just bid it farewell, and settled into “life after book.”
Well, life after bookS because I wrote this book immediately after finishing The Backyard Herbal Apothecary. 
When the UPS truck started down our long gravel road I paused for moment wondering what I had ordered.  And then it occurred to me — The Herbalist’s Healing Kitchen is HERE!
Now, she doesn’t officially publish until October 29th and I am still a few weeks out from promotion, but I can’t help myself - it’s just so exciting to have this book in print.
This book turns a thoughtful eye towards the food we eat and rethinks our daily meals and special treats so that we are maximizing the benefits of those foods!  I will show you how to use flavor to inform better eating decisions to cook your way to better health!
#herbs #herbalist #herbalmedicine #herbalism #author #cookbook #everydayfoods #foodismedicine #foodenergetics #eatingforhealth

    Follow @nittygrittymama